I’ve been trying to find a way of keeping track of the plants and jobs in my garden. Until now I’ve just used a good old notebook and pen, but of course it’s difficult to include photos and there’s lots of bits and bobs you can’t do – like cross-reference plant details or this-time-last-year entries easily.
Since this is an obvious application for a computer programme, I’ve been having a look at what’s on offer. Surprisingly, there’s very little by way of interactive gardening calendars: surely someone out there can spot this gap in the market?
Shoot is probably the most recent application on offer – it’s actually a way of selling your house by advertising its wonderful garden, which is a great idea in itself. But it also works as a big club for garden owners and allows you to pick out your plants from its massive database and add them to your virtual garden. Even better, they’ll then email you regularly with advice on how to care for it all. The downside: you have to pay for it. The paltry eight plants you’re allowed to download for free doesn’t go very far – cannily, they’ve made sure it’s just enough to get you curious for more so you’ll fork out the £20 or so it costs for a year’s membership. But if you’re willing to pay, it’s a great service and well-run enough to be head and shoulders above the rest.
For free, the BBC Gardening website does a calendar too. For some reason it’s well hidden on the site and takes a bit of finding – perhaps they’re still developing it. It could do with a few extras: the plant list is very limited, and there’s no email reminder (and the tips they give you are kind of basic). But they do allow you to keep an online note-style diary for the garden which you can refer back to easily.
And… er… that’s it! Apart from a handful of CD-roms which do the same sort of thing but I’m sure have the same sort of drawbacks. I think I might just have to invent my own… unless someone beats me to it!